England boss Phil Neville worried about 'standard of refereeing' in women's game

Phil Neville shouts instructions to his players during England's friendly against Australia. Getty Images

England women's manager Phil Neville said the standard of refereeing in the women's game worries him after his side were denied two penalties in a 1-1 draw with Australia on Tuesday night.

Fran Kirby's opening goal was cancelled out by a 84-minute header from Matildas defender Clare Polkinghorne, but only after England had spurned several excellent goal-scoring opportunities earlier in the game

The home side were then denied a penalty late in the match after substitute Nikita Parris was challenged in the box. England also saw appeals for a penalty turned away in the first half and had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside.

There has been talk that VAR will feature in the FIFA Women's World Cup in France next summer, as it did at the men's tournament in Russia, although the former Manchester United and Everton defender said it was the standard of refereeing that concerned him.

"Having VAR at the World Cup doesn't worry me," Neville said. "The standard of refereeing does. We're putting the players under immense pressure, to challenge them to be better professionals and to play better football. We want to make the women's game to be the absolute top and then I see a performance like that tonight [from the referee]. That's is my biggest concern.

"It's part of football. I once played a game for Manchester United against Tottenham and Tottenham scored when Roy Carroll [United's goalkeeper] carried it into his net and the game played on. So it does happen, I'm not just saying it's the women's game. It happens on both sides. But I just thought the referee's standard is below what it should be."

For the second friendly match in a row, Neville was also left frustrated by England's wasteful finishing. After beating Brazil 1-0 on Saturday, Neville urged his players to be more ruthless in front of goal, but could only watch as his side missed several opportunities to seal the win at Craven Cottage.

"I take responsibility for the chances because I go on about freedom of expression," Neville said. "I want the players to pass the ball, dribble it, create one v. ones. Maybe it's time to go back to just leathering the ball into the back of the net.

"But I enjoy seeing what they do. Seeing Fran Kirby going one-on-one with someone and then looking for a person who is in a better position to score, that's what great players do and that's what great teams do. So we're going to persevere with that because that will get us to where we want to go.

"These last two games have been frustrating. The players haven't got the just rewards that they deserve -- of beating Brazil 4-0 and beating Australia 4-0. That's not being disrespectful to two great countries who will do well at the World Cup, that's just on the balance of what I saw over the two games. We can play better."